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MEWP (Scissors lift / Boom Lifts) Safety

Updated: Dec 8, 2020



The majority of manufacturers and operators have strict safety criteria for the operation of AWPs. In some countries, a licence and/or insurance is required to operate some types of AWP. Most protocols advocate training every operator, whether mandated or not. Most operators also prescribe a range of pre-usage checks of the unit, and manufacturers recommend regular maintenance schedules.

Work platforms are fitted with safety or guard rails around the platform itself to contain operators and passengers. This is supplemented in most models by a restraining point, designed to secure a harness or fall arrester. Some work platforms also have a lip around the floor of the platform itself to avoid tools or supplies being accidentally kicked off the platform. Some protocols require all equipment to be attached to the structure by individual lanyards.

Extreme caution must be taken when using AWPs in the vicinity of overhead power lines, as electrocution may result if the lift comes in contact with energized wiring. Non-conductive materials, such as fiberglass, may be used to reduce this hazard.

AWPs often come equipped with a variety of tilt sensors. The most commonly activated sensor (especially with two people on a lift), will cause the machine to refuse to raise the platform beyond a certain height. Sensors within the machine detect that weight on the platform is off balance to such a point as to risk a possible tip-over if the platform is raised further. Another sensor will refuse to extend the platform if the machine is on a significant incline. Some models of AWPs additionally feature counterweights, which extend in order to offset the danger of tipping the machine inherent in extending items like booms or bridges. Some lifts are also fitted with sensors which will prevent operation if the weight on the platform exceeds the safe working load.

As with most dangerous mechanical devices, all AWPs are fitted with an emergency stop button or buttons for use in the event of a malfunction or danger. Best practice dictates fitting of emergency stop buttons on the platform and at the base as a minimum. Other safety features include automatic self-checking of the AWP's working parts, including a voltmeter that detects if the lift has insufficient power to complete its tasks and preventing operation if supply voltage is insufficient. Some AWPs provide manual lowering levers at the base of the machine, allowing operators to lower the platform to the ground in the event of a power or control failure or deliberate use of the machine, e.g., by unauthorized persons.

Aerial work platform. (2017, September 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:20, December 14, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Aerial_work_platform&oldid=800583676

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